A Christmas Eve Reflection

Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’s Christmas Eve of this peculiarly horrendous 2023 year. I know I’m supposed to sit back and reflect on all of the good things that have happened and be joyous as I give gifts to others tomorrow. This will be be a true test of my ability to be joyous regardless of my current circumstances. There are myriad reasons to not be joyous, but I have to say, as I sang this morning during church the glorious Christmas song “Light of the World” and the less traditionally Christmas “God With Us” (although it is appropriate for this season) I felt a definite mix of sadness and joy.

This is my first Christmas without either my mother or my father, and it feels every bit as odd as I expected it to, maybe even more. As expected, the family is somewhat physically spread out across the country instead of being concentrated at my Mom’s house. Again, this was not unexpected, but it feels a bit more empty than I could imagine.

Pile on cancer, tax issues, dealing my Mom’s estate and the general state of the world and things start to weigh heavily. All you can do is grasp at the opportunities you have to reach out and be with people. This results in spending Christmas Eve playing Hand and Foot at our new friend’s house with other new and old friends. It was a time of good food, playful teasing, and honest sharing of experiences that shaped us as we grew up, leaving us all laughing, shaking our heads at ourselves, and realizing that we all need times just like this one. Times to share, times to relax, times to not worry about what someone else might think or say, as grace and mercy consumes any potential judgment.

Soon we will begin the new year. A year that will most certainly be fraught with conflict, strife, sacrifice, and hardship. But it should also be filled with resolution, productivity, recovery, and peace. Not so much peace in the world (highly unlikely), but the shalom peace granted by God through the Spirit that is available to us if we can discipline ourselves to accept it.

I’ll end this short little reflection with a traditional blessing offered in churches everywhere, all year long.

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;

25 the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;

26 the Lord turn his face toward you

and give you peace.” ’

Numbers 6:24-26